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Nigeria, DR Congo storm into AFCON semi-finals

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Nigeria
Nigeria players celebrate after the win over Angola. PHOTO/CAF
  • Nigeria beat Angola 1-0
  • Ademola Lookman scored the solo goal
  • DR Congo also progressed after beating Guinea 3-1

Nigeria and DR Congo have both stormed into the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), after winning their respective quarter final duels on Friday night.

Nigeria edged out a tough Angola side 1-0 while DR Congo picked their first win of the tournament, with an emphatic 3-1 beating of Guinea.

In the early kick off, Ademola Lookman scored the all important goal for the Super Eagles, as they kept their hunt for a first AFCON title in 10 years, and their fourth in history.

Lookman’s goal sent Jose Peseiro’s men to their first semi-final since 2019 in Egypt. Lookman smashed the ball into the net from inside the box off a brilliantly executed move, Moses Simon breaking off on the left and evading a tackle from Gaspar Kialonda before cutting back a cross into the box.

It was a brilliant start for Nigeria, who had been stubborn offensively from the word go. Victor Osimhen was a constant threat in the final third, pressing every ball and this helped Nigeria ensure that Angola’s strengths on the attack were slowed down.

Nigeria almost to a second goal

Nigeria

Nigeria players Ola Aina and William Troost Ekong celebrate after the win over Angola. PHOTO/CAF

Nigeria thought they had doubled the lead in the second half when Osimhen headed home from a Lookman freekick, but the goal was chalked off by VAR for offside.

The Napoli center forward had another decent chance when he broke through on goal from a counter attack, but his eventual shot was blocked off by a decent stretch from Gaspar.

Angola had some chances to score, first seeing an effort coming off the bar before substitute Zito Luvumbo had a brilliant curling effort saved by Kelechi Nwabali in the Nigeria goal. Luvumbo had another chance when he found space on the right, but his eventual ball into the box flew straight into keeper Nwabali’s arms.

Meanwhile in the late kick off, Yoan Wissa’s second half penalty and Arthur Masuaku’s goal eight minutes from time helped DR Congo storm into the semi-finals, coming from a goal down to beat Guinea 3-1 in the quarters at the Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan.

Guinea had gone ahead via a Mohamed Bayo penalty, but the Congolese struck back through skipper Chancel Mbemba’s equalizer, and they finished off the job in the second half for their first semi-final appearance since they finished third in Burkina Faso in 1998.

Guinea go ahead but DR Congo fight back

DR Congo

DR Congo players celebrate after their win. PHOTO/CAF

The Guineans had gone ahead after 20 minutes from the penalty spot after Bayo was fouled by skipper Mbemba as he tried to get onto a cross from the right. Though protested, a VAR check validated the onfield decision and Bayo stepped up.

He sent the ball straight through the middle to give the Sylli Nationale the lead.

But, this lasted only seven minutes as Mbemba made up for the penalty as he swung the Leopards level with a well taken volleyed effort from the left after Guinea struggled in clearing a corner.

In the second half, Congo stepped up further and 20 minutes into the duel, they went ahead from Wissa’s penalty after Silas Katompa was tripped from behind by Julian Jeanvier inside the box.

Masuaku then topped the cake with cream eight minutes to time with a brilliant freekick from the left, catching the keeper off guard. The shotstopper thought he was going for a cross as the spot was wide on the left, but Masuaku went for goal curling the ball home.

The Congolese will now play either Mali or hosts Ivory Coast, who play in the other quarter final matches on Saturday.

“Whether it’s Mali or Cote d’Ivoire, we have no preference. They are two great footballing nations and we have to be ready for them,” Wissa said after the game.

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